16 Mar 2020

Giving It Sarge: Dan's Diet

How a pre-match meal superstition got Wigan Warriors to the 2017 Grand Final.

‘Giving it Sarge’ a weekly update on what Dan Sarginson does in his everyday life, we’ll be getting to know the Salford centre like never before; from his diet to his life essentials, Dan’s Diary to his favourite boxsets.  

Before we get started, there’s a disclaimer from ‘Sarge’ himself: “I can’t promise that this will be that exciting.”  

Sarginson claimed himself on the Out of Your League Podcast that he was ‘the most famous sport star from his school [Cavendish]’, that was before Tottenham Hotspur and England midfielder Harry Winks overtook him. 

Sarge isn’t your stereotypical Rugby League player - he was born in Perth, Australia – but he started his journey in the south of England, outside of London in Hemel Hempstead. 

From representing Saracens’ Academy in Union to making his league debut for Harlequins in 2011, Sarginson has played at the top of the game since his breakthrough. 

We take a look at his diet and it raises a question about rituals and superstitions. Is there something that you do every day, something you just can’t miss out on?

Well, Sarge stated: “I lived with Lew [Lewis Tierney] for a bit and we started having pasta, tuna, sweetcorn, and salad cream before every game – I don’t think we lost.

“We went on quite a big winning streak and it come became a ritual for us. 

“We kept that up all the way to the Grand Final and it’s still my absolute go to for a pre-match ritual.”

Every club is looking for an advantage using their own unique methods or methods used by others, there’s proven scientific approaches that are used, or learnings from other sports that could help an individual and team – ever 1% matters. 

There’s no such thing as one-size-fits-all if you are looking for a diet recommendation, there are different methods and everyone has their own unique needs, and that is why ‘Diet DNA’ was introduced to Wigan’s players a couple of years ago. 

By learning the way a body reacts to certain foods, athletes can train to their optimum performance levels and play at their peak more often than not. 

“My body takes more effort and a bit longer to break wheat down. The effect of it makes me feel lethargic – before training I try to stay gluten-free and keep the wheat out of my diet during training days. 

“I’ll have a gluten-free porridge in the morning and try to stay away from meats in the morning to make sure I feel optimal going into training,” said Sarge. 

Remember there’s no such thing as ‘one-size-fits-all’? An analogy that perfectly describes the metabolic system – everyone is different. 

The metabolic system refers to a series of chemical processes that helps break down your food and turn it into fuel for the body. 

“I struggle to keep weight on, if I come into pre-season a couple of kilos heavier then that’s good for me because after a couple of weeks that will fly off. 

“I reckon my high metabolism is starting to wear off though and it’s slowing down with age – I was a bit heavier this time around – I came back around 96 kilograms and I normally play around 93kg,” added Sarginson. 

Pre-season pushes players to their limits, the dread of the aerobic endurance drills from ‘Malcolms’ to ‘Yo-Yo Test’ and ‘Bleep Test’ to ‘Hill Running’, just watch Episode 3 of Hull FC’s docu-series ‘At All Costs’ to witness the pain that these players put themselves through. 

‘Eat, sleep, train, repeat’, it’s literally the definition of pre-season: “You’ve literally got to eat what your body is asking for.

“If we’ve done a massive session and I feel depleted, I’ll literally just smash as many calories into me, and that usually dictates how I feel the next day. 

“I think I could sleep on a washing line, and I’ll sleep around 8 hours. I’m a bit of a stresser but as soon as it comes to bed there’s no messing about – I’m straight asleep,” said Sarginson. 

Daily Diet

Breakfast: Gluten-Free Porridge with Fruit and Nuts

Before Training: Chicken and Avocado Wrap 

After Training: Jacket Potato, salad with either tuna or chicken and bacon

Dinner: Overload on carbs with either Potatoes or Pasta and any meat 

 By Warren Holmes